Previously known as the Hoya Tricolor, the Hoya Krimson Queen is a trailing, compact houseplant with cream and pink variegation on the edges of its oval, green-centered leaves. Its variegation has earned this Hoya the nickname Strawberries and Cream. 🙂
This easygoing Queen is a good plant for beginners, being generally low-maintenance and disease resistant. To help your plant thrive,
- Place your plant on an East-facing windowsill;
- Use LECA or a sharp-draining potting mix with peat moss, perlite and vermiculite;
- Only water when the topsoil is completely dry. Overwatering is the most common issue for the Krimson Queen. Err on the side of underwatering;
- Usual indoor temperatures are acceptable;
- Keep humidity above 60%. 80% is best if you can manage this with the help of a humidifier.
- Fertilize sparingly. Once a month in spring and summer;
- Repot once a year, or once every two years. Your plant prefers to be slightly root-bound;
- Use a pot with drainage holes. Terracotta pots are a good idea;
- Use gardening gloves when pruning or propagating. While the Krimson Queen is non-toxic, its sap can be irritating.
What is the Hoya Krimson Queen?
Hoya Krimson Queen is the variegated version of the popular Hoya Carnosa plant (sometimes referred to as Hoya carnosa ‘Variegata’).
If you are unfamiliar with the Hoya genus, they comprise over 500 tropical species originating from diverse habitats. These range from lowland to hill forests, from Asia to New Guinea.
It has semi-succulent, waxy leaves and fragrant scented blooms. Its flowers form star-shaped clusters with deep pink centers, lasting from summer to fall.
How to care for your Hoya Krimson Queen
As with all variegated plants, the non-green portions of foliage cannot photosynthesize. As a result, variegated plants generally need more light than non-variegated counterparts. The Hoya Krimson Queen is no exception.
Your Queen enjoys ample bright but filtered light for most of the day. An additional 1-3 hours of direct sunlight brings out the pink variegation in the leaves and encourages growth and flowering.
For best light conditions, place your Hoya Krimson Queen in East-facing windowsills. Here, the plant is boosted by a few hours of the direct morning light while receiving lots of indirect light for the remaining hours of the day. A South-facing window is also an option when placed about 3.3 feet (1 metre) away from the windowpane, reducing light intensity.
Though it can tolerate shaded areas indoors, growth will be slower. Under these low-light conditions, leaves will generally grow smaller, and their leaf colors will be dull and less variegated. Flowering may not occur.
On the other hand, West-facing windows should be avoided as the direct afternoon light these windows receive are too harsh for your plant. This results in scorched leaves.
Your best strategy would be to experiment with different locations and adjust accordingly. You can use the Compass App on your mobile phone to determine the orientation of your windows if you don’t already know!
How about Grow Lights?
If your home doesn’t receive much natural light, using grow lights is a great way to supplement limited natural light. Aim for 800-2,000 foot candles (the “bright indirect light” equivalent) for 6 hours a day for a needed boost of light.
Watering is an essential part of Hoya care. Most Hoya plant problems arise from improper watering. Because of their low requirement for water, it is easy to overwater your Hoya.
Overwatering prevents your Hoya from blooming, on top of attracting root rot and pests like spider mites and mealybugs.
But why do they have low water requirements?
This is because Hoyas have thick, succulent-like leaves that store water. These reserves allow them to absorb more water than the average houseplant. They also don’t lose as much water to evaporation. As a result, they are drought-tolerant and have lower water requirements.
In terms of watering frequency, wait until the plant’s topsoil is completely dry before watering. This usually works out to be once or twice a week, but it depends on the climate, how much sunlight it gets, how large the plant is and other variables. Your best bet is to check the soil’s moisture each time before watering.
We don’t recommend misting your Hoya, as wet leaves encourage fungi to breed.
High levels of humidity are ideal for your Hoya Krimson Queen. Aim for at least 60% humidity, with 80% being ideal.
If you live in an arid climate, consider grouping your plants together or placing your Krimson Queen in the bathroom or kitchen, where humidity levels are naturally higher due to water evaporating from surfaces. Here are some other ways to raise humidity levels.
However, the most effective and convenient way to raise humidity levels is to invest in a humidifier. This is the model we like and recommend.
Your Hoya is not cold-hardy, so keep temperatures stable in the range of 60-90 degrees F (16-32 degrees C). As a rule of thumb, if you feel comfortable in a room, so should your Hoya Krimson Queen.
If you’re placing your Hoya Krimson Queen in your garden or patio, it’s best to bring your Hoya indoors on cold nights. Temperatures dipping below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) can damage your plant and, over an extended period, will kill it.
Growth & Flowering
Your Hoya Krimson Queen is a trailing plant commonly found in hanging baskets or vining down from bookshelves. When kept indoors, it can grow up to 6 feet (1.8 metres). While that may sound like a lot, in nature, a 20 feet (6 meters) long Queen is not uncommon!
The Krimson Queen is a moderate grower, developing more quickly than other Hoya varieties. Like most Hoyas, it produces fragrant clusters of star-shaped flowers. We think it smells like citrus! Krimson Queen flowers have a deep purple-pink centre.
However, blooms may take 3 – 5 years to appear when kept as a houseplant, even under optimal growth conditions. So be prepared to wait a while. When mature, leaves can grow up to 2 inches (5cm) long and have that succulent-like, thick and waxy texture.
Extremely well-draining soil is essential for the Hoya Krimson Queen. They are susceptible to overwatering and root rot, so it is critical that a potting mix quickly drains excess water.
Typical houseplant soil usually proves too dense for your Hoya’s liking due to decomposed peat retaining too much moisture. Avoid these.
Lighter potting mixes similar to that used for African Violets are ideal. Here are three growing media for you to choose from, that will be great for your plant:
- A mixutre of 1 part peat moss, with 1 part perlite, with 1 part vermiculite; or
- Commercial potting mix specially formulated for African Violets;
- LECA (clay balls) are a Hoya favourite. Here’s more info on the pros and cons of LECA to help you decide if this is for you.
Though nothing can compare to good amounts of bright, filtered light, your Hoya Krimson Queen’s growth can be boosted with some added nutrition.
If you are using a potting mix, you can use a liquid houseplant fertilizer. Opt for a liquid high nitrogen organic fertilizer in the first few years of life. Nitrogen promotes strong foliage growth.
Switch to a liquid high phosphorus fertilizer once your plant starts developing flowers. Phosphorus promotes flowering.
If using a liquid fertilizer, apply once a month at half-strength during the spring and summer months. Hold off fertilizing in autumn and winter, when your Hoya’s growth naturally slows.
Alternatively, Hoyas also do well with slow-release fertilizers such as Osmocote pallets when applied every few months.
If you are using LECA as a growing medium, these fertilizers will not work for you. You must use a hydroponics fertilizer, which provides nutrients that your plant would otherwise derive from the soil or organic components of the potting mix.
What happens if I over-fertilize my plant?
Over-fertilisation can lead to mineral salt build-up.
In extreme cases, mineral salt build-up results in a crusty white layer forming on the soil’s surface. If you notice this, you’ll need to flush your plant thoroughly. Using room temperature tap water, leach your plant, allowing water to wash away salt residue. Let dry, and don’t re-water your plant until the soil has completely dried out again.
Another effect of over-fertilization is becoming susceptible to pests like mealybugs. These pests are attracted to plants with high nitrogen content. If you notice cotton-like patches on stems and leaves, you have a problem with your hands.
Here’s how to get rid of pesky mealybugs before they destroy your plant.
Being slightly root-bound is fine for most trailing vines. Your Hoya Krimson Queen is no exception. They don’t like to be repotted frequently. In fact, being slightly root bound encourages your Hoya to bloom.
However, you will know it’s time to finally repot your plant when water doesn’t get absorbed by the soil; instead drains out immediately. This means that the soil has compacted and isn’t able to provide your plant nutrients and water. Generally, repotting should be done once every 1-2 years.
Repotting is best done in the spring or summer, but not when your Hoya is flowering. Here are some repotting tips:
- When repotting, use a container that is only 2-inches larger than the original.
- Terracotta pots with drainage holes are an excellent option to promote breathability for healthy roots.
- Be careful not to damage your Hoya’s roots when repotting, using your fingers to tease away compacted soil gently.
- Always use fresh potting mix, as the nutrients within the potting mix would have depleted over time.
- Hold off watering for a week after repotting.
ASPCA considers the Hoya Krimson Queen to be a non-toxic plant.
However, Hoya plants come from the Apocynaceae family (sometimes referred to as the milkweed family). Milkweed refers to the milky white sap these plants produce, which is not poisonous but may be irritating to touch.
When pruning or propagating your plant, it’s a good idea to use gardening gloves if you have sensitive skin.
Stem propagation is a straightforward method to create more Hoya plants!
Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Identify a stem that feels soft and succulent to touch, with at least three nodes (this is the nubby bit protruding from the stem).
- Using clean garden shears, cut a 4-6 inch length of the identified stem below the node.
- Discard any leaves from the bottom half of the stem cutting.
- If you wish, as an optional step, you can encourage root development by applying a rooting hormone to the stem cutting.
- Place your stem cutting in a half-filled water jar, ensuring that no leaves are submerged and that at least two nodes are below the waterline.
- Change the water in the jar every 1-2 days to keep it fresh. Use room-temperature water.
- Wait till the roots develop from the nodes to about an inch long. Then, repot the rooted cutting into potting soil or LECA. If using LECA, ensure you use a hydroponics fertiliser.
- Treat as you would any other Hoya Krimson Queen.
Generally, your plant is low-maintenance. It doesn’t require pruning other than removing dead leaves or pruning to maintain your plant’s desired shape or size.
Here are some pruning tips:
- Don’t prune when flower buds begin to swell.
- Do not remove old woody peduncles (flower ends) since new blooms will emerge from these old peduncles.
- Allow flowers to fall off naturally – there is no need to cut these off.
- Prune away dead or damaged leaves, so that your plant can focus its energies on new growth.
- Prune if you wish to maintain your Hoya’s size or promote a bushy look.
- To prune, cut above the node.
- Over-pruning can discourage flowering, so don’t be too eager to prune.
- Use clean garden shears and wear gloves if you have sensitive skin, as the milky sap of Hoyas can be irritating.
Common Pests and Problems
The most common issues with Hoyas arise from overwatering.
- Mealybugs and spider mites are attracted to water-stressed plants. Here’s how to eradicate mealybugs and spider mites.
- Root rot results from overwatering. For information on tackling root rot, jump to the Troubleshooting section on yellowing leaves.
- Yellowed or blackened leaves – this is another sign of an overwatered plant.
Why are the leaves yellowing?
Improper watering is the most common reason for yellowing leaves.
It’s easy to overwater this plant, given its lower water requirements. Remember, all plants are different, and this succulent-like Queen doesn’t require the same watering frequency as other houseplants.
Here are some tips:
- Examine your watering frequency. Unlike other houseplants, the Hoya Krimson Queen requires its soil to dry out completely before watering.
- If in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of underwatering, as your Queen can tolerate drought rather than overwatering, which encourages fungi and root rot.
- Adjust your watering routine and observe accordingly. If your plant’s condition doesn’t improve, remove your plant from its pot and examine its roots.
- Black or brown roots indicate root rot. You will need to prune these off with clean garden shears. Then, repot your plant in fresh soil.
- In the worst-case scenario, your plant’s roots are almost totally black or brown and smell bad. In this case, it’s unlikely your plant will be able to recover. Instead, check out the propagation section. Make a stem cutting and start afresh with a newly propagated Hoya Krimson Queen.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Hoya Krimson Queen a succulent?
Not exactly. Hoyas are considered tropical semi-succulents. While they are tolerant of infrequent watering and can endure dry air, they are still less tolerant of these conditions than true succulents.
How long does Hoya Krimson Queen take to flower?
When kept indoors, it took almost four years for our Krimson Queen to flower. In general, you can expect flowering to take anywhere from 3 to 5 years under optimal growth conditions.
How can I encourage my Hoya Krimson Queen to bloom?
If you’ve waited 3 – 5 years for your plant to mature, here are some tips to encourage flowering.
- Check the amount of light your Queen is receiving. It must get 1-3 hours of direct morning light to encourage blooming.
- Keep your plant slightly rootbound. Put off repotting if you can.
- Temporarily reduce the amount of water your plant receives. Water a little less frequently than it is accustomed to encourage blooming.
What is the difference between the Hoya Krimson Queen and Hoya Krimson Princess?
You’d be forgiven for getting confused! The Krimson Queen and Krimson Princess are variegated versions of the same plant: the Hoya Carnosa. So it’s unsurprising that these two look similar!
Here’s how to tell them apart:
- Hoya Krimson Queen has variegated edges, with splashes of pink and cream and green centres. It also has a brown stem.
- On the other hand, the Hoya Krimson Princess has variegated centres with green edges. Instead of a brown stem like the Queen, it has a pink stem.
In terms of care conditions, the Hoya Krimson Queen tends to need more water than the Princess. The Queen also grows faster than the sluggish Princess.
Where can I buy a Hoya Krimson Queen?
Check out Etsy for reputable sellers.
Similar Plants and Varieties
Love Hoyas? Here are some of our favourites to check out.
- Hoya Krimson Princess – a Hoya with a similar color palette to the Queen!
- Hoya Macrophylla
- Hoya Pubicalyx
- Hoya Serpens
- Hoya Kerrii, the Sweetheart Hoya, a beginner-level Hoya with heart-shaped leaves
Other succulent-like or drought-tolerant plants
- Variegated String of Hearts
- Mother of Thousands or Mother of Millions
- Peperomia Hope
- Peperomia Ginny
- Dracaena Marginata
Deborah is a plant enthusiast and founder of Gardening Collective.